1 Indiana University, Department of eLearning Design and Services (UNITED STATES)
2 Indiana University, Robert H. McKinney School of Law (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN19 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 8864-8871
ISBN: 978-84-09-12031-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2019.2203
Conference name: 11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2019
Location: Palma, Spain
As educators, we struggle with introducing complex, multifaceted concepts in understandable and effective ways that support student comprehension of materials. Scaffolding is an evidence-based practice that involves a progressive introduction of skills and knowledge to enable students with greater understanding and independence regarding the material introduced. Because of this progressive introduction, scaffolding is an effective strategy to support students learning complex ideas and skills (Hammond & Gibbons, 2005; Wood, Bruner, & Ross, 1976).

In this paper, the authors will briefly discuss the application of the scaffolding approach to teaching case briefing. In the law school setting, knowing how to brief (read) a case is a necessary skill for students. Case briefing is a dense exercise, and usually only introduced in 45 minutes at law school orientation. While students may get a general idea, it isn’t until this density is broken apart into clearly communicable pieces that actual understanding of the skills involved becomes clear. The authors will discuss how they tackled this issue for both undergraduate and law students using “scaffolding” by breaking one large exercise into seven easily understandable pieces and incorporating formative assessment, student reflection, and feedback along the way.

Case briefing was introduced in an online undergraduate course in Summer 2018 as one exercise, discussed over two weeks. Nearly all students were unable to demonstrate proficiency with this skill in course assessments. Through a survey instrument, students also identified case briefing as a challenging component of the course. In response, a scaffolded learning approach was implemented in the second version of the course. The instructor and course designers divided case briefing into seven parts with accompanying activities and assessments, spread them out over four weeks, and incorporated feedback and reflection along the way. Within the updated course, both formative (i.e., Quick Checks, assignments, discussions, student reflections) and summative (i.e., assignments, mid-term, and final exams) assessments were implemented. Since scaffolding was introduced, students have evidenced greater proficiency and expressed a better understanding of both individual pieces and the overall process of briefing. While the scaffolding examples in this paper were designed for the introduction of a law school skill, the scaffolding approach, as well as the specific scaffolds implemented (e.g., templates, formative assessments with instant feedback, video examples), are readily transferable to all disciplines via the suggested learning technology tools (i.e., Canvas, Quick Check, DropThought, Google Drive, Zoom, Kaltura). When used to introduce complex concepts, scaffolding allows for clearer transfer of learning and student comprehension.
Scaffolding, student engagement, asynchronous, online, distance learning, assessment, educational technology, pipeline course, legal education, pathways course.